04.19.2011 0

The Real Issues in Wisconsin

By David Nace – On February 27, My Opinion, Penn Miller clearly illustrates the envy theory of the left. However envy does not justify support of public sector unions at taxpayer expense. It is not wages and benefits that are the real issues in Wisconsin.

The bill in Wisconsin would require state workers to contribute 6 percent of their income towards their retirement and 12 percent towards their healthcare. These percentages are similar to what private sector workers pay. State workers in Wisconsin are agreeable to starting to contribute toward their health and pension funds.

The real reason that unions bussed thousands of people to Madison to protest is because the legislation makes the unions directly accountable to their members. The state will no longer withhold the $700 annual union dues from employee paychecks. Unions must collect it directly from their members. Unions have difficulty collecting dues in other states that passed similar legislation. The other issue that has inflamed the Wisconsin unions is that the union must be recertified each year by a majority of its membership. It is ironic that unions would protest legislation that would give their members a greater say in their own future.

In the 25 years that my wife was a teacher, she saw the union that she joined change from a professional association committed to helping teachers provide the best education for children to just another industrial union that was concerned with political power and getting Democratic politicians elected. Helping teachers to provide the best education for the taxpayer’s money was not a priority.

Rather than rewarding good teachers through merit pay, the union promoted pay rates based on seniority. Benefits like healthcare and pensions were valued over wages, because benefits were not taxed and pension obligations did not have to be accounted for immediately in school district budgets. However, it is exactly these unsustainable benefits that are creating financial crisis in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and numerous other states.

The usual solution that Mr. Miller and the others on the left propose when unions, and the politicians they help to elect, raise benefits and pensions to the point of bankrupting the states is to raise the taxes on the rich. However, the top 5 percent of taxpayers already pay more of the tax burden than the other 95 percent and over half of that 5 percent are small business owners that report their company earnings on their personal returns.

If public sector unions and the politicians that they helped to elect in Wisconsin and other states were not grossly irresponsible stewards of the public’s money, they would not fear the legislation in being proposed in Madison, Wisconsin and numerous other budget strapped states.

David Nace, an Executive Vice President of a Pennsylvania construction and engineering company, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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